Ask Divorce Coach is Women’s Divorce Coach’s divorce advice column. Have a question? Send it to Cindy here. It’s anonymous!
Dear Divorce Coach,
I’m hoping you can help me with some divorce advice. I’ve been with my husband for six years and we adopted a chocolate lab two years into the marraige. We don’t have kids so we’ve always treated our lab like our baby. Our marriage has deteriorated quickly through the pandemic. My husband has been offered a job out of state and I do not want to move. For the most part, it would be an amicable split except that we both desperately want our dog. We equally spend time with him and provide care. I think he would be happiest here but my ex argues he would be happy anywhere. Can you help?
– Don’t Want to Lose my Dog
Dear Don’t Want to Lose my Dog,
This is certainly a difficult situation, and as a fellow dog lover, I can feel your pain. Losing a pet in divorce can feel devastating. You have the added complication of one of you not getting to spend time with him like before. In terms of the law, you’d need to check with an attorney where you live (or have residency) to see if there are any laws that govern this issue. There are some divorce coaches that specialize in pet custody issues, so you might also check to see if there is one that might be a good fit for you. Like any issue in the divorce process, I recommend if possible you and your husband discussing this matter when you are both in a decent state of mind (not overly tired, hungry, etc.) and try to keep the emotions low. Because you and your husband see your dog as a child, treat the conversation the same – try to think about what is in the dog’s best interest. Things to consider would be separation anxiety or time able to be spent with the dog, living situation (yard vs no yard), current attachment to each of you, finances (who could afford to take care of the dog in case of a medical emergency), and stability of future living situations (would one of you be jumping from apartment to apartment in the future?). I hope that helps and good luck to all three of you.
Dear Divorce Coach,
I have been divorced for three years and have not had much luck dating using dating apps. I have two kids, both in elementary school and have been an active volunteer at their school. There are a few divorced dads there that I find attractive and would love to get to know better. I have not seen them on any of the dating apps I’ve tried. I’ve read books and seen shows that depict how messy it can be to date someone from your kid’s social sphere. I’m wondering what your thoughts are on pursuing a date with single dad’s from their school or activities. Thanks!
– Dating a Dad
Dear Dating a Dad,
Dating after divorce can be very difficult. If you live in a city, using dating apps can be useful for meeting potential partners you would otherwise not come across in your daily life. While I would not encourage you not to pursue someone at your kids’ school that might be a potential match, I do have some thoughts to share. The first thing I would ask you to consider is how it might be if you asked someone out and they declined. Would you avoid going to school events out of embarrassment? Anything that would alter the course of you being involved in your kids’ lives in a meaningful way is not worth the risk in my opinion. This would apply to dating someone and then it not working out, as well. Dating someone in your kids’ social sphere also brings the burden of being extra discreet. No matter where you live, there are always people who love to gossip. On the flip side, dating someone whose children have the same schedule as yours is very handy. Scheduling is half the battle with dating another parent. Like in any dating relationship, I would not tell your children about your relationship with the dad unless things get serious and would get on the same page with him so that he and you follow the same rules. Kids in elementary school (unless extremely astute) aren’t going to pay much attention to your saying hi to another parent at school or question a casual chat.
Dear Divorce Coach,
My husband just filed for divorce and I feel extremely overwhelmed. He has always handled the finances and while I know roughly how much money we have and what we spend, I don’t know all the details. How do I get organized?
– Money Matters
Dear Money Matters,
Going through a divorce is difficult both emotionally and financially and many people in your position feel overwhelmed. I applaud you for thinking about what you need to get organized to make the process as smooth as possible for you now and in the long term. As a divorce coach, one of my main roles is to help people deal with their emotions so they don’t make decisions they regret and the other is to help them get organized so they can make informed decisions. I have numerous worksheets and exercises to help clients with the organization process in the key areas of decisions – parenting, property division and cash flow. You will want a good understanding of your financial situation so you can provide details to your attorney, know what will need to be divided and so that you can plan for your future. In terms of the law and your debts and assets, check your state statutes regarding property division, alimony, child support, how assets are treated before and after marriage, and write down questions you’ll have for your attorney. If your situation is at all complicated you might also consider hiring a CDFA (Certified Divorce Financial Analyst) and/or talking to your financial planner. They can help you with issues around retirement, the right mix of assets, taking on debt and taxes. If you are worried about your husband trying to hide assets, let your attorney know. It may take some time, but you can get organized and ask for help.